A Complete Guide to Lakeshore State Park
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Lakeshore State Park is located on Lake Michigan is Wisconsin’s only urban park where visitors enjoy walking, biking, fishing, and paddling. The park also has a small pebble beach, a 20-slip marina, and connects to the Hank Aaron State Trail.
This 22-acre park also serves as a stop on the way to other popular Milwaukee attractions. Its closeness to both Milwaukee’s Summerfest at the Henry W. Maier Festival Grounds and Discovery World through the Pier Wisconsin pedestrian bridge is convenient for people visiting the downtown area.
This urban oasis is adjacent to downtown Milwaukee in southeast Wisconsin. Milwaukee is on the western side of Lake Michigan, 90 minutes from Chicago, and less than three hours from Minneapolis.
History of Lakeshore State Park
After the glaciers retreated, Native Americans settled here 10,000 years ago. Then, from the 1600s through the 1800s, European settlements grew. Wetland areas were filled in throughout the 1800s to support the rising population, which altered Lake Michigan’s shoreline.
Lakeshore State Park was created as a result of limestone and dolomite landfill piles created by the Deep Tunnel Project. The tunnel project was built as part of the area’s sewage system.
The landfill became overgrown and a food source for birds, so in 1991, the city turned it into Harbor Island. When bluegrass was planted and a stone path was laid, Harbor Island became a favorite fishing spot.
In 1997, then-governor Tommy Thompson had an idea for an urban state park in Milwaukee, and this came to fulfillment in 2007 with Lakeshore State Park. In 2017, the pedestrian bridge was renamed the Richard A. Grobschmidt Memorial Bridge after a Milwaukee senator.
Lakeshore State Park Camping
Camping is not allowed at the Lakeshore State Park.
Lakeshore State Park Activities
Anyone looking for low-key opportunities to enjoy the outdoors will find no shortage of options here.
Visitors can see foxes, birds, and butterflies while walking, biking, or skating on the park’s paved trail. Anglers can try their luck at one of the park’s many fishing spots, and paddlers can take advantage of paddling in the lagoon or the lake.
Another fun option is to head out to the shoreline with binoculars and observe the birds or the ship traffic in the distance at Port Milwaukee. The views of Lake Michigan and the city are awesome from this waterfront park.
Throughout the year, the Friends of Lakeshore State Park conduct guided hikes such as the “Walking History Hike” and the “Bilingual Fossil Hike.” Lakeshore State Park also hosts monthly events like the Dragon Boat Festival, the US Triathlon and winter bonfires.
Lakeshore State Park Water Sports
Visitors are welcome to kayak and fish within the park, and there is also a 20-slip marina with reservable spaces.
Swimming at Lakeshore State Park
Swimming is not allowed at Lakeshore State Park.
Fishing at Lakeshore State Park
Anglers can fish for bass, northern pike, walleyes, suckers, bullheads, carp, crappies, perch, or bluegills 24 hours a day.
There are several fishing locations here, four of which have wheelchair access.
Wheelchair accessible ramps are located at:
- Off Milwaukee Harbor and near the lagoon off the island’s western path.
- South of Discovery World from the North Entrance.
- At the fishing dock on the western path, about halfway through the park.
Other fishing spots may be found along the Lakeshore Shoreline, beneath the pedestrian bridge, and at the Rock Blocks at the park’s south entrance.
To fish at Lakeshore State Park, you need a fishing license as well as a special fishing license for certain species.
Boat rentals at Lakeshore State Park
Here are our top picks for convenient boat rentals near Lakeshore State Park:
- Riverwalk Boat Tours provides pontoon boat rentals.
More Information: https://riverwalkboats.com/.
- Milwaukee Duffy Boat Rentals rents out luxury electric Duffy boats.
More Information: https://milwaukeeduffy.com/
- Pet-friendly paddle boats and hydro cycles are available at Lakeshore Paddle Sports Rentals.
More Information: https://lakeshorepaddlemke.com/
Boating at Lakeshore State Park
Lakeshore State Park has a 20-slip marina where boats can be moored. There are six spaces for 60-foot boats, and the remaining spaces are for 40-foot boats.
Most of the spaces in the marina have 30A power, however, the marina does not have any facilities. Two breakwaters shelter the boats at the marina from the wind and tide.
Because this marina is popular, reservations are advised. Reservations can be made up to eleven months in advance.
Kayaking at Lakeshore State Park
Lakeshore’s lagoon is great for kayaking practice. Kayaks must be carried or rolled into the park. The beach or the stone steps at the park’s southern end provide the most convenient access.
If you want to rent a kayak nearby, Milwaukee Kayak Company is happy to help.
More Information: https://milwaukeekayak.com/
Biking at Lakeshore State Park
The paved trail in the park is a multi-use trail that accommodates bicycles. Cycling enthusiasts use this trail to connect to the Hank Aaron State Trail, the Oak Leaf Trail, and the lakefront.
Hiking at Lakeshore State Park
Lakeshore State Park has a paved multi-use trail that encircles the park. This accessible trail connects with the Hank Aaron State Trail. As you go, enjoy the historical markers and the view of the city and Lake Michigan.
Picnic Areas in Lakeshore State Park
There are a few picnic tables scattered along the paved walking trail at Lakeshore State Park. There are also benches for relaxing.
There is no running water in the park, and the portable toilets aren’t always open. The nearest playground is a sensory-inclusive playground outside of Discovery World near the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Hunting at Lakeshore State Park:
Neither hunting nor trapping is allowed at Lakeshore State Park.
Lakeshore State Park Winter Activities
Hiking, snowshoeing, ice-fishing, and birdwatching are all popular activities here in the winter.
Visitors also join in on guided walks like “Rock Your Mocs” or “Opt Outside” hikes as well as s’mores bonfire events.
When the ice on the southern lagoon gets thick enough, ice-fishers frequently head out to fish for northern pike.
Bird watchers flock to catch a glimpse of the snowy owls and buntings frequently seen here in the winter.
Restaurants Near Lakeshore State Park
These restaurants are known for their glowing reviews, and we couldn’t agree more. These are less than a mile away from Lakeshore State Park.
More Information: https://www.bartolottas.com/harbor-house
Location: 520 W. McKinley Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Cuisine Style: Seafood
This New England-style seafood restaurant is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, so guests enjoy a true lakefront dining experience. Harbor House serves brunch, lunch, and dinner and also offers a children’s menu.
Fresh seafood is flown in and presented in extraordinary dishes like Oysters Blonde Savage, Grilled Swordfish, Calamari, and Soft-shelled crab. The menu changes based on what seafood is available, but it never fails to please.
Stella Van Buren
More Information: https://www.stellavanburen.com/
Location: 550 N Van Buren St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Cuisine Style: Italian American Steakhouse
This restaurant in the Westin Hotel is cozy, classy, yet comfortable. Stella’s customers enjoy traditional dishes with a distinctive, high-quality twist. Whether it’s tasty Lemon Ricotta Pancakes for breakfast or the mouth-watering Porterhouse for dinner, the entrees here are on another level.
There are plenty of combinations to choose from. Lunch choices include Mediterranean olive bruschetta, panzanella salad, and prime skirt. For dinner, try a “small plate” of steak tartare with your Bolognese. The pasta is made in-house, the bread is freshly baked, and the meat is cooked slowly for the best flavor.
St. Paul Fish Company
More Information: https://www.stpaulfish.com/
Location: 400 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Cuisine Style: Seafood
This family-friendly eatery is in downtown Milwaukee’s public market. Whether it’s the dining room, the tiki bar, or the oyster bar, there are always quintessential Wisconsin vibes to catch here. St. Paul’s Fish Co. has lobster rolls, salmon crack, walleye, perch sandwiches, and Po’ Boys, just to name a few. There are, of course, more than three types of fish fries. There is a fresh fish flavor for everyone of all ages and tastes!
Plan to bring some home because St. Paul’s Fish Co. is known for fresh fish at good prices. Choose from a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood, including scallops, Alaskan snow crab, Prince Edward Island mussels, sockeye salmon, and… well, you get the idea.
Where is Lakeshore State Park?
Lakeshore State Park is located at 500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202.